Putting Names to Local Homeless

As students preoccupy themselves with writing essays and studying for exams, a world both close
and distant trudges on. Just outside UMKC walls lie city streets that students often drive down but
rarely slow enough to understand. These Kansas City streets are home to many people.
People who even without shelter to call their own, have dreams to reach for, hobbies to
enjoy and stories to tell. In spite of tremendous obstacles that stand in their way, these humans
manage to be just that: human.

Darren is a tall 43-year-old man who sometimes sits on the corner of Main and 31st streets. He has a strong passion for basketball and was himself a talented player back in the day. As it turns out, sports are not limited by social and economic circumstance – Darren explained how he makes use of free newspapers and TVs at homeless shelters to keep current with the sports world. Like just another sports fan, he predicts the Royals winning the World Series and of Anthony Davis winning the NBA’s Most Valuable Player later in the year.

“We all deserve a second chance,” Darren said. “But sometimes we don’t get one.”
Paul is an elderly man on Swope parkway near highway 71. He talked of childhood memories and describes in detail playing “dominoes at my cousin’s with the radio going.” He explained how dominoes “was something really important in my family because it was something we didn’t fight about.” A small smile began to form as he recounted this story.

Leona walks down Troost Ave., just south of campus.

“God is my guiding light,” she said. “No matter what happens to me, I know that He has a plan for me.”

With nothing but a Bible and a jacket to her name, she is able still to speak with visible and unwavering positivity.

Adam is a high-spirited 72-year-old man by the Walgreens on 39th. He talked about his family, “four kids who are all grown up now”. He mentioned that his youngest daughter wanted to become a doctor but how he has not gotten the chance to find out if she succeeded. He spoke candidly of regret and reveals that his biggest was not knowing how to ask for help. A skateboarder meanwhile landed a kick-flip off a nearby curb. Adam jumped up and cheered loudly.

Those who call the streets home make up this city and this community as much as anybody else does. Many of these people must every day face true hardship. UMKC students can get involved in assisting the homeless community through donating food to places like Harvesters and Rightway Food Pantry or volunteering at places like City Union Mission.

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